Product Focus: Switchers & Routers


Switchers and routers get smart
According to In-Stat/MDR's Q1/2002 Networking Quarterlies report:

  • The Layer 2/3/4-7 switch market shrank 4% as ports shipped fell from 36.8m in Q4/2001 to 35.4m. Revenues fell 8% to USD3.3bn. L3 modular and fixed Fast Ethernet switches, L3 fixed and L4-7 modular and fixed Gigabit Ethernet switches, and all types of copper Gigabit Ethernet switches outperformed the market. This highlights the increasing importance of intelligence in the network. Exceptional growth of L3 fixed Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet switches demonstrate that, as the convergence of voice, video and data nears, workgroup switch upgrades are becoming more intelligent.
  • The router market remained flat, dropping 1% from Q4/2001. Cisco remained dominant in the enterprise market, with 93% share in unit shipments, ahead of Nortel. Wireless routers rose 36%. About 50% of Service Provider Core routers were sold in North America and 29% in Europe. A higher percentage was sold in Asia-Pacific than previously due to increased broadband deployment and network build-outs.
  • Continued tight service provider capital spending impacted several equipment markets including multi-service switches, packet telephony gateways and voice gateways. Total voice gateway port shipments fell 36% to 1.1m ports. Sales fell 40% in Q4 to USD122.1m. Multiservice switch-based voice gateways fell least.

Optical Convergence Switch
New enhancements to Corvis Corp's Optical Convergence Switch (OCS) - the first multi-band switch with integrated electrical and optical switching fabrics - include:

  • Support for a larger scalable capacity. This "multi-shelf" feature enables pay-as-you-grow scaling of an initial OCS cross-connect investment up to 11.5Tb, with no need for pre-provisioning or overbuilds up-front.
  • Native support for DWDM interfaces, enabling cost-effective growth between Central Offices up to 80km apart by stacking multiple metro SONET/SDH links on a single fibre.
  • Line cards for lower-speed interfaces. OC-3 and OC-12 services can be aggregated at the OCS for grooming onto an optical backbone, removing aggregation network element.

Sycamore Networks has launched a 4-port Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) service module for its SN 3000 Intelligent Optical Switch.

Sycamore says it is first to support standards-based Virtual Concatenation (ITU G.707) for metro optical switching, for delivering end-to-end Ethernet services over existing networks with SONET/SDH levels of protection.

One service is a full suite of sub-rate and full-rate Ethernet services (from 50Mbit/s to 1Gbit/s) using a single interface and software control.

It enables the first services with mixed Gigabit Ethernet protection schemes on a per-circuit, per-application basis, including SONET/SDH protection schemes as well as mesh protection schemes enabled by the BroadLeaf software suite. It maintains carrier-class network reliability with multi-vendor, ring-based protection options, including guaranteed 50ms SONET/SDH protection switching.

Unique is the ability to mix this within a single service contract, enabling full protection services for a portion of the overall service rate and partial protection for the remainder.

Circuit emulation and SONET/SDH interfaces
Lantern Communications' Metro Packet Switch (MPS) Release 2.0 has the following enhancements:

  • Circuit emulation service modules provide clear-channel transport for 32-port T1 and E1 traffic streams, making it the only all-packet multi-service RPR solution supporting both 2.5 and 10Gbit/s. They enable TDM transport on the same fibre facilities used to deliver SLA-backed, point-to-point and multipoint Ethernet services.
  • RPR modules enable operation on SONET/SDH OC-48c/STM-16c fibre rings and connection to OC-48c/ STM-16c interfaces on existing DWDM systems and a choice of 2.5 or 10Gbit/s packet ring deployments.

Ethernet services
Atrica Inc has launched hardware platform Release 2.0 for its A-8800 Optical Ethernet Metro Core Switch, part of its Optical Ethernet System. This eliminates OEO conversion and increases scalability by an order of two magnitude on competitive system, supporting up to 500,000 MPLS network connections to address emerging services such as Ethernet-based Layer 2 VPNs, Transparent LAN services over MPLS and TDM-over-MPLS services. The new scalability provides complete network services provisioning rather than per-box service provisioning.

It supports 10 Gigabit Ethernet MAC layer connectivity on a multi-node ring, which translates into enhanced transport efficiencies. The fully functional DWDM system offers up to 32 protected channels with standard 10Gbit/s per channel and 100GHz spacing. It can support not only new Ethernet-based services such as Transparent LAN Services and Layer 2 VPNs, but also pure optical services such as point-to-point lambda services.

Also, Release Metro network enables the new generation of Ethernet-over-MPLS services.

BGP/MPLS VPN support for router
Redback Networks has announced BGP/MPLS VPN support for its SmartEdge 800 Router based on RFC 2547bis, increasing scalability, reliability and performance.

Virtual router based implementation allows CPE router functionality to be absorbed into the provider network by enabling deployment of new network architectures to support VPN solutions.

MPLS VPN implementation delivers highly available VPNs in conjunction with other IP-based services.

The virtual router feature enables creation of dedicated and unique IP environments for different customers on a single chassis, each environment retaining full carrier-class attributes.

Layer 3 PP-VPN for IP routing and MPLS
NetPlane Systems has made available a distributed Layer 3 Provider Provisioned VPN (PP-VPN) software solution, based on the IETF's "RFC2547bis" draft specification and fully interoperable with all standards-based platforms.

An extension of its IP Routing OPTIRoute product family, it provides full integration of Border Gateway Protocol version 4 (BGP4), for IP Routing, and MPLS to move the complexity of site-to-site VPN management from the end-user to the service provider network for delivery of mission-critical Layer 3 VPN services.

PP-VPNs also provide support for service level agreements (SLAs).

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